Derby County maintained their unbeaten away record in the League at the Reebok Stadium as a flurry of first-half goals, including a double from Johnny Russell, helped the side to a 2-2 draw with Bolton Wanderers.
The Rams went a goal down on the night after just five minutes when defender Alex Baptiste finished with aplomb after racing onto Lee Chung Yong’s intelligent lay-off.
However, within 120 seconds Derby were level. Craig Bryson’s one-two with Jamie Ward on the edge of the penalty area freed the midfielder to deliver for Russell at the near post, and the forward was well placed to fire past Adam Bogdan.
10 minutes later the former Dundee United forward doubled his account for the evening and the Rams’ goal tally when, like the first goal, he met Bryson’s cross in the penalty area to tap in from close-range.
But Bolton midfielder Chris Eagles ensured Derby would not claim their fourth successive away victory in the league, when he trotted forward nonchalantly prior to lashing the ball off the wet turf and into the bottom corner from 25-yards, in what was a frantic opening 45 minutes.
The Rams went into the game at the Reebok Stadium defending the SkyBet Championship’s only 100% away league record; looking to add to the 2-1 triumph at Brighton, 3-0 victory at Yeovil and last Saturday's 5-1 emphatic win over Millwall at the Den.
It was a confident opening from the visitors, who almost drew the first goal of the game when after a long spell of possession, Ward teed up Adam Smith on the edge of the penalty area, before the right-back curled an effort harmlessly over.
However, like the swing of a pendulum, the Rams were forced into defensive action almost immediately as Eagles broke clear, only for Jake Buxton to deny the former Manchester United winger with a last ditch block.
Central defender Baptiste then flashed a header over from Chung-Yong’s corner, but the pressure continued to mount in the play that followed, although the Rams could not have predicted the manner in which the Trotters would take the lead.
With five minutes gone Chung-Yong’s clever chest down on the edge of the box was collected by a rampaging Baptiste, who raced towards goal prior to curling the ball beyond Lee Grant with the confidence of a prolific striker.
The goal cooled an edgy Bolton home crowd, as ahead of the game, the Trotters were amidst their worst start to a League campaign for 50-years.
But Bolton’s initial euphoria was extremely short lived, as just two minutes later, a slick passing move culminated in Bryson fizzing the ball across the face of goal for Russell, who had the simplest of finishes at Bogdan’s near post.
Russell’s strike took the Rams’ tally to 11 goals away from home this season, and the Scottish forward was quick to make it 12 just 10 minutes later.
Will Hughes’ attempted long range shot cannoned into the back of Bryson. However, the ball ran kindly for the 26-year-old midfielder, who delivered a pinpoint cross for his fellow countryman Russell, and the former Dundee United striker gladly bundled the ball across the line at the second attempt.
Defeat against the Rams would mean Bolton would match their lowest equivalent points total since starting the 1902/03 top-flight season with seven straight defeats, and Eagles looked desperate to ensure that feat would not happen.
The former Burnley midfielder was only denied by a superb reflex save from Grant at his near post in the 19th minute, but Eagles did get the better of the shot-stopper in the latter stages of the first-half.
Eagles was a constant menace in the opening 45 minutes, playing in the lines between the Rams’ midfield and defence, and when he picked the ball up 25-yards from goal in the 41st minute, he thundered a shot into the bottom corner that skidded off the wet turf past Grant.
After an open first half that contained four goals, it appeared as though both managers had told their teams to tighten up defensively in the 45 minutes that followed. The first meaningful attack of the second period did not arrive until the 62nd minute - through an unlikely source.
Smith cut inside from the right and displayed a burst of pace as he edged towards the Trotters’ goal. The full-back found Martin who released Ward down the right who crossed to Smith at the far post, but the defender’s subsequent goal-bound effort was hacked away by Matthew Mills.
Opportunities remained at premium in the second half, although the Trotters almost snatched a winner with 13 minutes remaining when substitute David Ngog glanced a header inches wide following Jay Spearing’s precise cross.
Derby County: Grant (GK), Smith, Keogh, Buxton, Forsyth, Eustace, Bryson, Hughes (Coutts 50’), Ward (Davies 79’), Martin, Russell (Sammon 83’).
Subs Not Used: Deeney (GK), Freeman, Bennett, Jacobs.
Bolton Wanderers: Bogdan (GK), Baptiste, Wheater, Mills, Tierney, Ream, Spearing, Eagles, Chung-Yong, Hall (Ngog 72’), Beckford.
Subs Not Used: Lonergan (GK), Knight, Pratley, Mears, Odelusi, Medo